What is the True Meaning of Life?
People have been asking this question for centuries; searching for the answer in religion, in science, in art, and even within ourselves. And still, for all of the journeys taken within and outside of these areas, there is not necessarily one simple answer to this question. However, there are a number of theories that point to an overarching idea: that peace could be the true meaning of life.
And what is peace exactly? The definition of theMerriam-Webster dictionary is:
“freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions”
To say that the meaning of life could be to free yourself from oppressive thoughts or emotions, seems like a worthy but broad goal to aim for. More specifically, for some people oppressive thoughts are a constant burden that they would like to free themselves from. For others, finding peace could simply mean improving their mental health, so that their emotions do not always negatively affect other parts of their lives. For most of us, however, gaining freedom in our lives overall can also equal peace.
Ultimately, the definition of peace can apply to everyone despite it having different personal meanings for different people. So how can we strive for peace in order to gain meaning in our lives?
Michelle Maros writes about being present, and giving attention to every action you make in the quest for meaning and peace. In the search for meaning, we can often find ourselves trying to make big changes in our lives, when instead we should begin with the small things. By being aware of every action and small decision from one day to the next, we can find ways to live more purposefully without having to change our lifestyles completely.
One tip on how to do this, is to search for what makes you truly happy. Michelle explains:
“Go on a mission to find joy in even the smallest activities. Revert back to hobbies you truly loved as a child. Find new ways to be creative and work toward setting aside some quality time for yourself to enjoy these activities.”
Setting time aside to get to know yourself better or to remind yourself of the things you love, is an important part of finding peace and meaning in your life. However, others take a different view when it comes to finding peace.
Rather than trying to make your own, peaceful space, some suggest accepting your surroundings as they are. Lidiya K writes about not trying to force peace but instead focusing on these three values.
- Acceptance – being okay with what is;
- Letting go – leaving judging, comparing and overthinking behind;
- Being here – enjoying the present moment and being mindful of it.
These three steps need to be built up and practised over time before they can become regular activities in your life. Practised separately, however, they are useful tools themselves.
By making a conscious decision to accept life as it is and feeling okay with the parts of it that you like, you can get closer to defining which parts of your life are no longer avenues towards peace.
Letting go can come in all shapes and sizes from detachment from a toxic relationships in the past to letting go of certain rigid plans you once had for your life. By releasing the burden of expectations from ourselves, we can leave more room for peace to enter.
Many people have found themselves struggling towards a goal for years only to reach the end and realise that there is a always a new goal to work towards. Sometimes, letting go of old goals and setting the right ones can help us on our way to peace.
Being here in the present moment is something many strive for, and a thing many more find the most difficult thing to do. In fact, being present in the moment is not something that happens just once but is a continuous and conscious process until it becomes a natural part of us.
Many people who meditate focus their energies on remaining in the present moment, and meditation can be a great 5-10 minute a day practice towards finding inner peace. Smaller actions like taking a moment in your day to be aware of your senses and your surroundings, can be an excellent tool during moments of high anxiety.
More often than not, though, anxiety can affect all of us in our quest for peace. Taoism, in particular, has many strategies and viewpoints when it comes to achieving inner peace and quieting down our anxieties. The Personal Tao explains:
“Inner Peace is a matter of accepting your life as an answer towards questions of Inner Truth.”
Taoism practices focus on the many questions that run through our minds during times of high stress. Rather than trying to block out the questions, Taoism teaches us how to ask more questions, until the mind becomes tired and realises there is not only one answer to everything.
Ultimately, the aim is to come to the understanding that you are the only answer that matters. This way, you can stay present in the moment without thinking about the past or the future.
Of course, these are difficult feats because our past experiences make us who we are today and they have an impact on the future we would like to live in. However, they do not necessarily have to dictate how we move forward with our lives. They can be lessons that we learn, ones that continue to teach us. And we can keep those lessons in mind whilst remaining in the present in order to get closer to inner peace.
So is peace the true meaning of life? Perhaps, depending on what peace means to you: it is. Most would probably agree. But one thing is sure: obtaining inner peace in your life can only improve it by allowing you to be more present and to be able to enjoy what is happening in the present moment.